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9 Things Successful People Do When Playing Games

9 Things Successful People Do When Playing Games

Most competitive games require players to use some sort of skill to gain an edge against their opponents. Even games as simple as Go Fish or Rock, Paper, Scissors can be beaten using strategy and planning (in fact, Rock, Paper, Scissors is much more complex than you might think). Players of almost any game in human history can find a way to gain an advantage over their opponent to maximize their chances of winning. Here is how the most successful people get that done.

They project confidence

Before even becoming invested in getting good at a game, players must be confident in their abilities. I know for an absolute fact that I’ll never be a great soccer player; it might be this lack of confidence that keeps me from even trying. But, I’m definitely capable of being a winning chess or poker player, and this confidence has helped me approach both games in such a way that I don’t rely on dumb luck to win. I’ve used this confidence as a springboard to help me get even better at the cerebral games I’ve always had a knack for.

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They understand the rules

Even simple games such as Sorry! have lesser known rules that, if you know them but your opponent does not, can help you win. Using Sorry! as an example, if you pick a seven card, you are allowed to “split” your move between two pieces (one can move three spaces, and another four, for example). While it sounds pretty inconsequential, knowing this rule comes in handy when you know you have to move an exact number of spaces to get a piece into your home base. In a game like football, a defensive player must know the exact difference between a clean block and holding, or else he will never succeed at stopping the blitz without being penalized.

They study strategy

Once you have a true understanding of the rules to the game, you need to understand the strategy behind winning it. Whatever game you are getting into, there are almost unlimited resources online which you can use to your advantage (there is even a strategy to winning Guess Who?, if you can believe it). The best part about learning strategy is that all games are staggered in difficulty depending on your understanding of them. A game like chess is a perfect example. A five-year-old can learn some basic strategy to the game, like how to best protect the king from early attacks, and can use this strategy to beat players who don’t use this strategy. However, as the child grows, he will find the same strategy does not work against more seasoned players, and he will be forced to improve his own strategy in order to continue winning.

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They practice

Along with studying strategy, players must put the strategy into practice. Michael Jordan once (at least once) sunk a free throw with his eyes closed during a game. This wasn’t just something he could magically do; he obviously spent hours upon hours making sure he could make almost every single free throw he ever took. And let’s be serious: practicing free throws for hours on end could not possibly have been fun. But he perfected his shot, and that’s why we consider him the best basketball player of all time. Successful people practice every aspect of their craft until they can literally do it blindfolded.

They exercise

Along with practicing, you must exercise to train in preparation for a game. Exercising doesn’t necessarily have to be directly related to the game you are preparing for, but it should strengthen something within you that will help you during play. Weight training, running, or swimming will definitely help you in an athletic event, while completing logic puzzles and problems will help expand your mind before a “mind game.” Keeping your mind and body sharp before a competition allows you to easily maintain an equilibrium, think critically, and adapt to changes in the game.

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They stay positive

The old saying is true: quitters never win, and winners never quit. It should be noted that in that saying, there is nothing about winners never losing. You will definitely face setbacks; there’s no denying that. It’s important to keep your eyes on your goal when you face a loss, or an injury, or any outside factor that inhibits your ability. Winners push past a loss or a disappointment, knowing it’s only a blip on the radar. On the other hand, a loss is not just a blip if it’s what keeps you from playing ever again; it defines you as a loser for the rest of your days.

They follow models

The most successful competitors are inspired by those who came before them. They are not only inspired by them, but are driven by them. Competitors study how their idols perform, and seek not only to emulate them, but to eventually surpass them. They learn what regimens their idols followed and what strategies they utilized, and use this information to maximize their own potential. Not only does studying professionals from the past help the competitor progress, but in doing so, helps the game evolve as well.

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They study past performances

Athletes and competitors not only study others, but themselves as well. Every good athlete studies their past performances to see what they did right, and what they did wrong. The most successful poker players analyze crucial hands that either made or lost a lot of money, to see if there’s any way they can change their play in the future. One of the reasons chess players are so successful is not simply because they’re “good at chess”; they’re good because they’ve spent hours and hours studying past moves, and because of this know exactly what to do when they get into a certain situation. Of course, it’s incredibly important to look at past performances not to beat yourself up, but to keep progressing each time you compete.

They have fun

Pros have fun, too. Why do you think they do what they do for a living? Now, this doesn’t suggest that pros just go out and have a blast; it’s a more controlled type of fun, but it’s fun nonetheless. Professionals talk about getting “in the zone,” going on a hot streak that can’t be beat. Of course, they also go through slumps (baseball players, especially). Something to note is that whenever hitters go into these week-long doldrums, getting maybe one hit every five games, their coaches ultimately tell them to forget about it, stop being so nervous, and just have fun. Usually, taking pressure off of themselves instead of putting more on is what helps them gain their stride back. Even though professionals should take their career seriously, they should always remember to simply enjoy themselves.

Featured photo credit: Racquetball Player Ball Dive Hit Return Play/skeeze via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on March 21, 2019

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

“What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

1. Start Small

The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

Do less today to do more in a year.

2. Stay Small

There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

Why?

Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

Peter Drucker said,

“What you track is what you do.”

So track it to do it — it really helps.

But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

5. Measure Once, Do Twice

Peter Drucker also said,

“What you measure is what you improve.”

So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

For reading, it’s 20 pages.
For writing, it’s 500 words.
For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

6. All Days Make a Difference

Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

Will two? They won’t.

Will three? They won’t.

Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

What happened? Which one made you fit?

The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

7. They Are Never Fully Automated

Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

10. Punish Yourself

Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

11. Reward Yourself

When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

In the End, It Matters

What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

“Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

Keep going.

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More Resources to Help You Build Habits

Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
[2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
[3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
[4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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